Approaching Bermuda: Boat Speed Is Our Friend

0740 EDT – Approaching Bermuda, and checking in with the boats 50-80 miles to leeward of BEOWULF’s position.

0740 EDT – 28’39″N – 64’00” W. Last night as the sun was going down it was looking like the breeze might pick up so as a preemptive strike, we furled the working jib and went to the staysail – a sail area reduction of some 450 square feet or 20%. Speed dropped average of one knot, and comfort improved as we were not impacting the seas on the nose nearly as hard.

About 0200 ship’s time the breeze had not strengthened, and in fact has started to ease and clock more to the east, so back up goes the jib – all without getting wet – roller-furling in our old age has come to be appreciated!

We’ve yet to study the weather this AM – but with a barometer at 1017 and steady, and more importantly very few high clouds to our south – the odds of anything nasty happening in the next 20 hrs are not high.

So, Beowulf is cracked off at 80 degrees true wind angle, reaching at 12.5 knots in 15 knots or so of wind, and the crew is getting ready for a hot breakfast and showers all around.

One interesting sidebar – last night on Herb Hilgenerg’s weather net there were three boats in our vicinity checking in – all of them 50 to 80 miles to leeward of our position. They are all faced with the same issue – gambling on getting into Bermuda ahead of “the blow” or slowing down/heaving to so as to stay well south of the storm track. Not having our boat speed, and not being able to fetch Bermuda they really have no tactical options, other than to accept that they have to wait two or three days. This in itself is not so bad, but after the blow there will be N quadrant winds for several days, making the approach to Bermuda time-consuming and uncomfortable.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 5, 2001)

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